North Korea has a few things to gain from this:
- They enjoy tweaking the US, Japan, and South Korea about our impotence. The Western nations jump up and down and threaten sanctions and resolutions, and North Korea has shown over decades that nothing the West can say is going to hurt it. So long as China sticks with them, they are safe.
- A military confrontation with the West puts China in a difficult bind. North Korea remains useful to it, so in a bind China needs to give North Korea some support.
- It’s a great way to test Obama when he clearly has other fish to fry.
- It allows Kim Jong Il to show other members of the ruling clique that he is in control.